§ Mr. Truswell
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on(a) the outstanding legal questions relating to the treatment of NHS patients abroad, (b) when he anticipates those legal questions will be resolved and (c) how patients will be selected for treatment abroad.
§ Mr. Hutton
The main legal issue on the principle of treating patients abroad has been decided. Health authorities and national health service trusts must be free to commission services in Europe. What remains to be resolved are the practical and legal issues flowing from that decision, in particular, the legal consequences for commissioners and patients should things go wrong.
Our aim is to address these various legal, clinical and quality issues over the coming few weeks so that the first patients are able to travel for treatment before the end of the year.
Selection of patients is a matter for local commissioners and the patients themselves. No patient will be forced to travel against his or her will. Commissioners and clinicians will need to satisfy themselves that patients are fit for travel and are at low risk of post-operative complications.